Over 100 Children With Cancer in Blagoveshchensk Hospital Contracted Hepatitis C

News20 March 2019

Now they need expensive treatment their parents simply cannot afford, as oncology patients with VHC should be treated with interferon-free regimen only.

This is reported by Kommersant. The fact that 28 kids had got the virus was covered in the media as far back as December 2018. But according to the information collected by the newspaper’s reporters, even more people had actually suffered from it. The reporters stress that VHC transmission has occurred in the Amur Region Children’s Hospital (located in Blagoveshchensk) at least since the year 2009.

Apparently, children used to contract hepatitis C through blood transfusions, in any case that’s what doctors once confessed to one of the parents. However, the reason could also be simple negligence and health code violations among them the use of reusable venous catheters (single-use ones were not available at the hospital for a long period of time).

‘We started filing complaints and appeals in the summer of 2018 and when we were hospitalized again in autumn, we saw that the situation had changed: nurses sanitized their hands in front of us and put on new disposable gloves every time. Before that they used to either come in already wearing gloves or do everything without them at all,’ the newspaper cites one of the victims’ mothers. ‘Now nurses enter a ward with a trolley, they put on gloves right in front of you, take out ampoules and open single-use syringes packages. Before that they used to bring in syringes already filled with medicine.’

After the story had leaked to the press, the Amur Region Office of the Investigative Committee of Russia opened an investigation for sanitary and epidemiological regulations violation (paragraph 1, article 236 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). However, the authorities were hesitant to take any drastic measures against the hospital executives and medical staff.

The experts interviewed by the newspaper highlight that hepatitis C treatment with the use of interferon is not indicated for children with cancer. So now the victims need quite expensive treatment. The country’s budget hardly provides for purchase of effective direct-acting agents for the disease. AIDS.CENTER reported earlier that in 2017 the Russian government was able to provide medicine for hepatitis C only for 1.5 percent of people who need it.

According to monitoring data, the average price of simeprevir is about 165 thousand Rubles per pack and sofosbuvir – 126 thousands. Thus, the cost of full course of treatment for one person at the moment varies from 400 to 600 thousand Rubles. Parents of most of the affected children probably won’t be able to afford the treatment.

Import of cheaper generics of the above mentioned drugs is prohibited and constitutes a criminal offence in Russia. Moreover, some time ago the State Duma intended to adopt stricter laws making it impossible to buy generics online.

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